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TAG
"You're it, girls!"
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Tag" is the most recent of three films at the festival by Sion Sono, who is having an absurdly productive year (four films total released in 2015!), and there are points where it seems like this frantic pace is overtaking him, like you can't expect him to crank this much out and still expect all of it to have some sort of plot that makes sense. He almost seems to be asking us to just take the often jaw-dropping scenes, accept that the weird ways they're being strung together have some weight, and accept that such an assembly is more entertaining than most movies. If that were the case, he wouldn't be wrong, but there's a bit more than that." (more)
SHINJUKU SWAN
"Looking for 'talent', finding trouble."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Like a lot of movies adapted from long-running manga, "Shinjuku Swan" shows a lot of telltale signs of screenwriters Rikiya Mizushima and Osamu Suzuki trying to cram a lot of storylines and fan-favorite characters into a couple hours. It's a process that has torpedoed a lot of movies, but works out all right here in large part because the script is handed off to Sion Sono, who knows a little something about making dense-but-exciting movies with a fair bit of darkness." (more)
WALK IN THE WOODS, A
"Trail Of Yawns"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... ""A Walk in the Woods" is a film that tries to coast almost entirely on the good will generated by its two co-stars. Since the co-stars in question are living legends Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, that is a lot of good will for it to draw from but even that is not enough to get this aggressively innocuous story across the finish line. For its target audience--which appears to be mostly people waiting patiently for a third "Exotic Marigold Hotel" film to come along--it will no doubt come across as a pleasant enough diversion but for anyone looking for anything else will find it to be as blandly forgettable as its title." (more)
TREATMENT, THE (2015)
"A case for treatment"
5 stars
Charles Tatum says... "Ye olde police procedural has been around for decades, with dozens of examples being shown on television every night of the week. There is rarely anything new to offer, and the comfortable television shows follow a routine in their episodes that rarely challenges the average viewer- "Bones" and "Criminal Minds," I'm looking at you. Director Hans Herbots and screenwriter Carl Joos takes an English crime novel (by Mo Hayder), and the age old police conventions, and shakes things up a bit. The evil of some of our fellow humans is ratcheted up, and this film contains an excruciating final scene that will stick with you for days. To say "The Treatment" is a dark film is an understatement." (more)
LOVE & PEACE
"I love it to pieces."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The first of three Sion Sono films being shown at this year's festival is a joyous, crazy delight, piling whimsy ever-higher even while Sono reveals a darkness behind it. The great bit, though, is that the pieces that may make an audience uneasy never poison the joy surrounding it, even as Sono finds himself springing imagery on the audience that could horrify if handled differently." (more)
BIG MATCH
"Great in the opening rounds, but wears down a bit."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Big Match" is really a mess, the sort of movie which starts from a decent action-movie premise and sort of has the right idea about what to do with it, but could use a lot more commitment. Yes, this is mainly a way to get the hero from one action scene to another without a lot of fuss, but imagine how much more exciting it could be if it was tightened up and really thrilling?" (more)
LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM (AKA MISONO UNIVERSE)
"A silly little song that nevertheless gets to you."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The latest from the director of "Linda Linda Linda" is another charmer about someone finding friends and himself (this time) through music, although its appeal won't be limited to the too-small audiences who have seen the former. It's a different sort of movie, after all, more focused upon redemption than coming of age, but still a very appealing comedy." (more)
MINUSCULE: LA VALLéE DES FOURMIS PERDUES
"Tiny heroes, great big adventure."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: One of the most enjoyable parts of this festival (and movie-going in general) over the past few years has been finding kid-friendly movies that brothers and sisters-in-law would deem okay for their girls despite never having heard of the things. "Minuscule" was, hopefully, a big success on that account - I just gave one niece a copy for her fifth birthday, and I can't see how the whole group of cousins don't love it." (more)
FATAL FRAME
"Not good, but at least interesting and unusual."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The festival program indicates that this film and the game "Fatal Frame" were based upon the same book, although the credits indicate that the book was based upon the game before being adapted into this film, but those specifics don't really matter. What's important is that screenwriter/director Mari Asato doesn't really make a good film, but does make something that's a little more striking than the usual product getting churned out." (more)
ROBBERY (2015)
"Everything goes wrong, so everything goes right."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Robbery" is one of several movies in the festival that I didn't expect to be nearly as funny as it wound up being, and unlike "He Never Died", this is full-out anything goes material, going for the big laugh at every opportunity and mostly getting them, even if this is a very crude, violent Hong Kong comedy and some bits are in questionable taste. Well, actually, no, not questionable - this film is tacky through and through." (more)

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